U.S. Charges Three Iranian Nationals in Global Computer Hacking Campaign

The Department of Justice has charged three Iranian nationals for allegedly conducting a global hacking campaign that targeted victims and the U.S. and other countries for extortion. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag)

The Justice Department has charged three Iranian nationals for a global computer hacking campaign that allegedly targeted hundreds of victims for extortion, including local U.S. governments, power companies and a domestic violence shelter.

According to an indictment unsealed in New Jersey, Mansour Ahmadi, Ahmad Khatibi and Amir Hossein Nickaein began their hacking conspiracy in October of 2020, and took aim at companies and institutions in the United States, Britain, Israel, Russia and Iran.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said the three defendants “engaged in a pattern of hacking, cyber-theft, and extortion largely for personal gain.”

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“They were looking to steal information, encrypt networks, and sell private data, all in the hopes of persuading victims to pay sizeable ransoms,” Wray said in a video statement.

The indictment says the defendants exploited known vulnerabilities in network devices and software to steal data from their victims’ computer systems. In some instances, they allegedly encrypted data on a victim’s system and demanded ransom to decrypt it, while in others they threatened to release the stolen data unless a victim paid them not to do so.

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SOURCE: NPR, Ryan Lucas

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